A Blessed and Happy New Ecclesiastical Year to All!
A Time to Renew our Faith & Commitment to our Lord!
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
On September 1st, we usher in the New Ecclesiastical Year in the Liturgical Cycle of our Orthodox Church Calendar. We begin the cycle of the Immoveable Feasts and will approach and pass through the Moveable Feasts from early February thru the beginning of June (Triodion, Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha, to one week after Pentecost– the Sunday of All Saints). The last month of the Ecclesiastical Year, August, was a very eventful one as we completed the outgoing Liturgical Year with the Feasts of the Holy Transfiguration, the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and held and concluded our 36th Annual Greek Festival.
I would like to acknowledge all the hard work all of you did in putting the Greek Festival together and for the immense amount of energy exerted in laboring for it. I would like to thank especially Austin Vali for taking the lead in chairing the event and planning and organizing all the logistics involved in what it takes to run this huge, monstrous sized event. Thank you to all our chairpersons, numerous volunteers, our Nisiotes and Nisiopeda Dancers and Dance Director Dianna Graves, our Aloha Choir and Choral Director Stelio Scordilis, and all the people who worked in front of the scenes and behind the scenes. The camaraderie that takes place is an absolutely amazing dynamic I witness at our Festival, where we enthusiastically work together, fellowship and enjoy one another’s presence and good company (kalh parea).
The magnitude of this camaraderie is something I really miss after the Festival is all over. I enjoy spending time with all of you and I marvel at the uniqueness you each hold in your personalities and talents! I feel these special moments of camaraderie should happen throughout the year in our parish community and family. I have experienced some of these special moments in some of the major and not so major events and Holy Days that take place during the year, such as: our Thanksgiving Feast in the Social Hall, Fundraisers for our Dancers and Aloha Choir, Great Lenten Services, Saturday of Lazarus Retreat, Holy Week Services, the Paschal Picnic, the Dormition Paraklesis Services, and Week Day Feast Day Coffee Hours.
Beginning in this month of September, we have some new opportunities to build camaraderie and fellowship. We have the following taking place: Ohana Pizza Night on Saturday, September 9th. We are starting our Prayer Group towards the end of September to lay our cares at the Lord’s Feet and to give Him due Glory. On Sunday, September 17th, we will begin a 4-part Adult Religious
Education Series on “Hot Potato Issues” led by Dr. Robert Arakaki with one part led by Peter Kay. I plan on preparing an Adult Religious Education Series on the Divine Liturgy soon after. We are also planning on implementing the Y2AM Youth Ministry Plan that Steven Christoforou (who introduced the wonderfully engaging “Be the Bee” series) developed. I am currently working on a manual (borrowing from reliable sources) to help guide our families to live Orthodoxy in the home and daily life, knowing that the spiritual life and formation as Christians begins within our own personal living spaces.
Of course, good ideas are wonderful, but if not implemented are meaningless and fruitless! As our late Metropolitan Anthony of blessed memory would say: “You have an idea...Give it flesh!” This was one of his great strengths which he exemplified in his life and as leader of our Diocese and Metropolis. He would have a vision and would take that vision and make it a reality! He left us with lasting legacies and left huge “footprints.” He created the Folk Dance Festival Ministry (FDF) to bring the youth together in masses. He made St. Nicholas Ranch a reality as a center for spiritual growth and development, and as a setting for retreats and Summer Camp. He built the Monastery of the Life-giving Spring so that monasticism would flourish.
The New Ecclesiastical Year is a time that is an opportunity for us all to renew our faith and commitment to the Lord. Given the fact that God has gifted each one of you with your uniqueness along with special talents, use them by investing them for His Glory. Within our Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral there are countless opportunities to use your God-given treasures. Our choir, for example, could be better supported by an addition of more voices, especially more Altos, Tenors and Sopranos. Rather than the very few people committing any given ministry, let us all be a part of the various ministries. Let us be true to what we articulate in our services, “let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.”
With Love in Christ,
Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna; Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria; Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian; Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos; Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey